Asarum canadense (Canadian Wild Ginger)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Asarum
Family:Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; rich woods
Bloom season:April - May
Plant height:4 to 12 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: UPL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 3-petals Flower shape: tubular

[photo of flower] Flower is tubular/bowl-shaped with 3 dark red to brown triangular petal-like sepals with elongated tips. The tube is ¾ to 1 inch across; the flower is up to 2 inches across from tip to tip. The inside of the tube is creamy white; in the center is a ring of 12 stamens around the 6 reddish brown styles. The outside of the tube is covered in long white hairs, especially near the base. A plant has a single flower that lies on the ground at the base of the plant.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Each plant has a pair of basal leaves on stalks up to 6 inches long. Leaves are heart to kidney shaped with a pointed or rounded tip and a deep cleft at the base, the underside densely covered in soft hairs. The leaf stalks are gray-white, also densely covered with soft white hairs. On a mature plant, leaves are 6 to 8 inches long and wide, but are less than half that size when the plant first blooms. When leaves first emerge they are folded up and flat like a book, but unfurl within a couple days.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a capsule containing many seeds.

Notes:

Wild Ginger tends to grow in colonies, spreading vegetatively through spreading rhizomes. The flower color makes it easy to miss among the brown leaf litter in the woods in spring, but the leaves are easily recognizable. It makes a great ground cover plant for a shade garden. It is not related to the ginger plant popular in Asian cooking.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County, Battle Creek Regional Park, Ramsey County, and Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Rice County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Debbie - Fillmore County, near Forestville State Park
on: 2010-04-18 01:12:49

These flowers were growing in a wooded hillside/bluff.

Posted by: Amy - Chisago County, Sunrise Township, our woods
on: 2010-04-20 13:06:31

Spotted them growing on a wooded hillside facing west.

Posted by: Kathy - Annandale, MN Wright Co, Clearwater Lake
on: 2010-04-24 13:10:23

been here 30 yrs and first time I noticed along path in woods. Extraordinary flower. Was exciting to find!

Posted by: Rochelle - Beltrami County, Bemidji MN
on: 2010-05-17 11:31:26

Growing on the edge of a mixed woods area. Very short and compact growth.

Posted by: Alison - St. Paul, MN
on: 2010-07-12 14:53:32

Wild ginger can be seen at Lilydale Regional Park in St. Paul, MN.

Posted by: Suzy - Fillmore County Lanesboro, MN
on: 2011-05-05 18:28:30

Growing in several locations in heavily wooded areas in moist soil near the south fork of the root river.

Posted by: Lauren - Becker County, East of Detroit Lakes on Minnesota 34
on: 2011-05-14 14:09:38

Growing under mixed oak, birch, and poplar along creekbed in sandy loam soil.

Posted by: Matt - Circle Pines, Anoka County
on: 2011-05-17 23:01:17

Several colonies of it growing in mine and my neighbor's back yard. Heavy shade, loamy soil.

Posted by: Crystal - Camp courage, Maple Lake MN
on: 2011-05-19 21:11:31

Just Came from MSR (formerly MS camp) these are all over the place along the trails there. amazing little plants. supposed to be very tasty also.

Posted by: Linda - Dakota County
on: 2011-07-15 10:49:46

This plant can be found growing in both Kaposia Park and Simon's Ravine Park in South St Paul. You can't see it from the main trail, but if you take some of the side trails (mostly deer paths), there are many large patches. It is also growing in the woods across from our home in South St Paul. That area was the site of major sewer excavation about 20 years ago, and the native wildflowers were seemingly destroyed (I confess to flinging around some native plant seeds after the work was done). However, it's been very interesting to watch the area recover, as I'm now finding not only the ginger, but also Solomon's Seal, False Solomon's Seal, and loads of Jack-in-the-Pulpit whenever I walk through there. Sadly, although the oaks, elm, maples and cottonwoods are doing well, there is a LOT of buckthorn.

Posted by: Mark - Frontenac State Park
on: 2013-05-13 07:46:18

abundant wild ginger, cliff-face paths along the Mississippi, in bloom 12 May 2013. Not a showy plant - very subtle.

Posted by: Melody - Brook Park
on: 2014-05-15 14:21:31

These grow in my yard. It is wooded thickly, and I found them in a wild blackberry and hazelnut patch.

Posted by: Tim - Golden Valley
on: 2016-03-29 23:50:23

Without hairy stalks, what would they be? Spread like crazy, starting in March, and they never have any bloom. Gone by July or so.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2016-03-30 06:12:24

Without hairy stalks (or hairy leaves) it might be the European wild ginger, but it's hard to say without more info. Post a picture on the Minnesota Wildflowers facebook page and we'll see.

Posted by: Marisa - Lake County
on: 2016-05-31 09:22:28

Spotted in a shaded area by a creek yesterday, just north of Two Harbors. Flower buds - not blooming yet.

Posted by: MLM - Carlton County
on: 2017-02-12 09:48:14

Do not ingest, it is toxic

Posted by: Sheila H - Ottertail
on: 2017-06-04 16:07:42

I've got this growing all over the shady places in my yard.

Posted by: Jessica - Byron
on: 2018-05-02 15:03:57

Found lots of colonies of wild ginger this morning mixed in with hillsides of Dutchman's Breeches and Trout Lilies at Oxbow Park in Byron, MN today.

Posted by: bonnie harper-lore - Backyard, MTKA/Plymouth - Hennepin Country
on: 2018-05-04 12:02:28

Is it just me OR is this the year of Wild Ginger? I admit I introduced a few many years ago, because I thought it was a missing species of a Red Oak (dry-mesic) woods biota. This year it is popping up all over our yard! It now seems invasive - possible? Should I intervene?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-05-05 08:04:08

Bonnie, wild ginger spreads vegetatively and can do so more aggressively in a lawn where there is no real competition. Ants also spread the seed to additional areas. It does make a great ground cover but if you don't want so much of it, it's controllable, though you have to keep at it.

Posted by: Alan Straka - cascade township
on: 2019-04-22 10:31:37

We have variegated plants but have yet to see them anywhere else. With sun, the yellow variegation disappears and by summer the leaves are a solid green. In some cases lower leaves are shaded by upper ones and the variegation persists with solid green leaves above and variegated ones below.

Posted by: BR - Interstate Park
on: 2019-05-01 10:20:19

Saw tons of this last weekend while hiking Interstate Park, along the Rail Road / Sandstone Bluff trails.

Posted by: Jim Hanson - Section 32, Township 159, Range 37, Roseau County
on: 2019-05-19 09:22:08

Along hiking trail on south side of Roseau River at west edge of Beltrami Forest. On May 14, 2019 flower buds were a day or two from opening up.

Posted by: Jones - Littlefork river
on: 2019-08-05 10:00:43

These grow along the river bank here, cool plants!

Posted by: Gloria Z Lindberg - Eden Prairie
on: 2020-04-28 21:05:53

April 25 at Cedar Hills Park in Eden Prairie along the path that follows Riley Creek. Quite a large bed of these, many in bloom.

Posted by: Anne Oldakowski - Blacks Grove Park, Ottertail County, Compton Twp sec 3
on: 2020-05-08 21:50:03

Another unique plant that gets lost under the brown oak leaves in spring.

Posted by: Jeff Richert - Minnetonka
on: 2020-05-14 11:56:17

Soooo, just took a bunch out of a flower bed. Wondering, what do those in the know think about guerilla gardening this into the parks around my home? Along the bike trails, or Minnehaha Creek parks?

Posted by: Wendy Sandstrom - Blaine
on: 2021-04-20 07:26:14

Private residence as ground cover on one side of the house under mature Oaks.

Posted by: Alina - Mississippi River Gorge park
on: 2021-04-22 21:44:13

Found a couple of plants just off the hiking trail on the upper bluff of Mississippi river

Posted by: Julie - Anoka
on: 2021-05-05 10:00:45

Through my gardens. Spreads, but very beautiful.

Posted by: Janet - Eden Prairie
on: 2021-07-02 13:36:12

They were planted within my boulder wall over 10 years ago and are spreading and doing very well, better than the other groundcover I planted there.

Posted by: Camilla Ward - Fillmore Township, in Fillmore County
on: 2021-07-11 07:20:22

We have acres of wild ginger and native wildflowers, and the Buckthorn in most of our dryer wooded x areas is taking over, unfortunately. It was recommended above by someone to post an image of the ginger on Minnesota Wildflowers Facebook page to determine what type if ginger it is.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-07-11 12:06:52

Camilla, the native ginger has dull, hairy leaves while the European ginger has shiny, hairless leaves. Woodlands in Fillmore County is prime habitat for the native.

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